Need Ideas for Your Cookout?

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Even though many of us are experiencing spring and upcoming summer holidays a bit different this year due to COVID-19, we do not have to completely abandon our favorite traditions. Keeping in mind the current recommendations related to the number of people in a gathering and 6-foot social distancing, backyard cookouts can still be major fun!

While we’re changing things up, it’s the perfect time to consider some alternatives to the “traditional” burgers on the grill. Consider these healthier options:

Tuna Burger. Tuna makes a surprisingly delicious burger option. This recipe is a quick and easy crowd-pleaser that makes dinner or lunch a breeze. Leftover patties refrigerate well and can be eaten the next day (cold or reheated) for a convenient and satisfying meal at work or home. Top your burger with your favorite garnish to make this burger your own.

Salmon Burger. These burgers are super easy and can be made in just a few minutes. Have your fishmonger remove the skin from the salmon to make this even easier. You can serve this as a burger on a bun with Sriracha mayonnaise (½ Sriracha and ½ mayo), or you can serve it on a bed of kale slaw.

Quinoa Pinto Bean Burger. No need to buy veggie burgers when you can make these at home with great ingredients. You can use the seasonings suggested or experiment with others based on your favorite flavors. These are great made ahead and cooked to order. They can be served in a bun like a traditional burger, crumbled in a pita, or on top of a salad.

Mushroom Beef Burgers. The Mediterranean way of eating contains very limited amounts of red meat. One way to decrease consumption of red meat is to add vegetables so that you are consuming less. This recipe introduces lots of mushrooms (a 1 to 1 ratio to meat) for a flavorful but lighter burger. Using a food processor will speed up your work but a good knife will do the trick as well. You want the raw mushrooms to be a little bit larger than crumbled ground beef. Then when they cook they resemble ground beef and combine well with the hamburger.

Mushroom Almond Burger. These are some of the best veggie burgers ever! The small amount of sharp cheese and the umami from the mushrooms give them a great flavor. When forming the patties, use your hands and place them directly in the hot pan. They are hard to move around prior to cooking and don’t make firm patties. Once they start cooking, the egg white helps firm them up so they can be turned easily. They are great hot, room temperature or even cold.

Visit the Med Instead of Meds website to find great ideas for tasty salads, side dishes, desserts, and even flavored water recipes to set off your cookout perfectly. Be sure to visit our local Montgomery Farmer’s Market, which is open every Thursday, and has moved to the amphitheater location in downtown Troy.

Basic Food SafetyBut always keep food safety in mind! Because the last thing you want is to make yourself or anyone else sick because of improper food handling. Whether you are preparing food inside or having a backyard BBQ outside, it is always important to follow good food safety practices when handling or preparing food for yourself and others. Always be sure to maintain good personal hygiene, and limit the amount of time that food is held at temperatures between 41 degrees and 135 degrees Fahrenheit. It may seem like an unnecessary “extra” step, but taking the time to use a meat thermometer to be certain that the food is cooked to the correct internal temperature may save you lots of discomforts (and potential embarrassment) later. Lastly, be sure to clean and sanitize all surfaces.